US coal miner Alpha Natural Resources axes 1,200 jobs

Leading US coal producer Alpha Natural Resources Inc said that the company will cut approximately 1,200 positions between now and early 2013 as part of its realignment strategy amid challenging global coal market and sagging demand for the commodity.

The planned reduction represents around 9 per cent of its current workforce of 13,000 employees. About 400 positions will be cut immediately with the idling of eight mines in the Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the company said in a statement.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha is America's second-largest coal producer by revenue and the largest supplier of metallurgical coal in the US. With its customers spread over five continents, the company reported total revenue of $7.1 billion in 2011.

By early next year, Alpha intends to focus on enhancing the company's metallurgical coal leadership position in both domestic and international markets and establishing cost-competitive thermal coal assets better suited to supply domestic and new thermal coal markets overseas.

Alpha's chairman and CEO Kevin Crutchfield said: ''With fundamental changes taking place in our business, we're taking decisive actions that set the table for Alpha to compete successfully as a leader in the global coal markets for years to come.''

Alpha is taking a long-term view on thermal coal market anticipating selling it profitably into a smaller domestic market and to customers in new markets overseas by developing a global marketing platform. Simultaneously, the company plans to advance its position as a premier supplier of metallurgical coal.